Tag Archives: Judy Blume

Are You There, Reader?

Graphic courtesy of the American Library Association.

Graphic courtesy of the American Library Association.

My feeling in the beginning was wait, this is America: we don’t have censorship, we have, you know, freedom to read, freedom to write, freedom of the press, we don’t do this, we don’t ban books. But then they did.

Judy Blume, The Guardian (July 2014)

I read Forever by Judy Blume in the 6th grade. (Incidentally, that’s the same year I discovered the Flowers in the Attic series. I’m eternally grateful that I read Forever first; who knows what I would have thought of sex otherwise.) Of course I passed it along to my friends. One friend in particular kept getting “caught” with it (seriously, worst hider ever.) Her mother returned it to me twice. She told me if I gave it to her daughter again, she’d tell my mom. And I was like, “Lady, who do you think gave it to me?”

She wasn’t the first friend not allowed to hang out with me and she wouldn’t be the last.

Forever

Written in 1975, Forever is the very real, very intimate love story of high school students, Katherine and Michael. They meet at a party and rapidly fall in love. Can their love last? (Of course not, they are 17.) It was written at the request of her teenage daughter, Randy.  Blume says, “She was reading all these books, where a girl succumbed [to sex], she would be punished, sometimes she would die. And Randy said, ‘Couldn’t there ever be a book where two nice kids do it and nobody has to die?'”

Michael and Katherine “do it” and no one dies!

WOW, does that make people angry! Forever is Blume’s most banned/challenged book (and this is the lady that wrote Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? and Deenie!)

Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Frequency of sexual activity and sexual descriptions
  • Use of “four-letter” words
  • Does not promote abstinence
  • Does not promote monogamous relationships
  • Demoralized marital sex
  • Disobedience to parents is shown
  • Talks about masturbation
  • Talks about birth control
  • Sexuality
  • Lack of moral tone
  • Sexual passages inappropriate for young people

So. I guess it’s the sex. Thankfully for every censorious jerk, there are a million women who were educated and touched by her books. And a lot of those women became librarians, who write letters. Get your Kleenex.

Amanda Palmer wrote a song about Judy Blume!

Now go read something sexy!

suzy

 

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Déjà Vu All Over Again

Deja Vu Book Club

First, I must apologize. I should have let you all know about this a long time ago. But hindsight is 20/20 and there’s no time like the present. (You can insert here any other belated/late and time related clichés that come to mind.)

areyoutheregodThis Saturday, November 16th at 11:00am will be the second meeting of our newest book group. The Déjà Vu Book Club will be discussing Judy Blume’s coming-of-age classic, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

The book is a tale about a young girl trying to find her place in her new school, her circle of friends, her religious beliefs and within herself. Margaret is at that age where she knows what’s to come and just can’t wait for it to get here. (Periods, boobs, boys, kissing – you know, the usual stuff!) Yet, she also would like things to stay the same. Her sounding board for all of her adolescent conundrums is her own personal God. While her extended family wants her to choose a religion, she finds it difficult because she just doesn’t feel His presence in those houses of worship the way she does when they’re alone.

Besides waxing nostalgic over this pre-teen female rite-of-passage book, we’ll be sure to discuss a bit of the “controversy” surrounding the re-writing of portions of the book by Ms. Blume, to bring certain details into the more modern age. As an aside, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is one of Judy Blume’s most challenged books.

The Déjà Vu Book Club is for people of all ages who are interested in reading, or re-reading, children’s and young adult classics. Come with your best friends, your daughter or son, or by yourself to meet other people who love and have fond memories of the same books you do.

We’ll also be deciding what titles to read next year at this Saturday meeting. If you have a favorite title from your childhood or teenage years that you’d like to read again and discuss, we’d love to know what it is!

So, if you’ve ever read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, either the original or revised version, please come and talk about it with us on Saturday morning. And for those of you who may not have read it yet, please do! We have copies available at the library. You can check it out today and be done by tomorrow. It’s a slim book and a quick read, I promise.

Also, tomorrow morning there will be doughnuts!

-Melissa M.

doughnuts

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Banned Books Week: Are You There, Judy? It’s Me, Melissa.

In celebration of Banned Books Week, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite books (and authors) that have been challenged in schools and libraries because of content or appropriateness.

Badge courtesy of EpicReads.com

Today is the last in our series of posts for Banned Books Week. I was very fortunate that, during my formative years, my reading choices were not censored in any way. I didn’t even know that such things as the challenging of books existed, except as a plot for a television show, and even those were few and far between. And like much of what I saw on TV, I assumed those stories were exaggerated for effect.

My parents let me read whatever I wanted. My trips to the library were made solo and I chose from both sides of the library – Children’s and Adult. I’m sure the library staff were amused by this tweenager who was checking out the 3rd book in the Mary Poppins series, Forever by Judy Blume, and kitchen/bathroom decorating books for the umpteenth time. But they were ever the professionals and said nothing to me, just wrote my library card number and due date down on the card from the book’s pocket and I was on my way. (Shout out to the Springdale Free Public Library!)

A huge part of my reading repertoire from those years was Judy Blume. I worked my way through Superfudge, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Freckle Juice, Blubber, Deenie, Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, and of course the quintessential girls coming-of-age Blume novel – Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret. I found all of these books relatable and thought-provoking. I saw myself in a part of each of these stories. They made me feel I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t a freak who was fundamentally different from everyone else. These books made me feel normal. And isn’t that all any pre-teen wants?

Of course dealing with topics such as sex, religion, menstruation, and masturbation will land authors on some people’s “naughty” list. Judy Blume is a shining example. She is continually one of the most challenged authors. Five of her books made the top 100 challenged books for the decade 1990-1999 and even with thousands of new books being published each year, four of her books are still on the top 100 list for 2000-2009. She must be doing something right!

So at the end of Banned Books Week 2012, I leave you with these suggestions:

  • Parents, read what your kids are reading and try to understand it from their point of view, not yours, and then talk to them about it. What they need from and get out of a book may be completely different than what you think they do.
  • Teachers, keep assigning those great books, despite the critics you might have to face.
  • Kids and teens, read whatever you can get your hands on. Your brain will sort it all out later.

-Melissa M.

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